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News from our School in Mali

A day with Guem, Student at the Kirina Music School

In October 2010, the Playing For Change Foundation opened its second music school in West Africa: L’école de Musique de Kirina, in Mali, located in a small village 30 km out of capital city Bamako. Kirina is a unique village, as most of its inhabitants are griots, who are the keepers of the oral tradition and history. We couldn’t have dreamed of a better place in this country to build the school.

Every week, close to 200 children attend free classes in traditional instruments, dance, English and French. Since 2012, Mali has gone through several serious political issues, and more recently, has experienced the threat and fear of seeing the Ebola virus develop in the country. Although Malian political situation has improved and Ebola hasn’™t spread there, the last few years have brought uncertainties and worries for our staff. I just came back from a 10- day trip to Mali and, as always, it was a fantastic and life changing experience. Malian people are truly among the nicest people I’ve ever met, and so far away from the image traditional media often delivers of them.

The impact of the music school on the village has been quite amazing.In addition to providing music education to the youth and helping to preserve a cultural knowledge that traces back through centuries of oral history and music, the school has generated unexpected initiatives such has the implementation of 300 solar panels in the village by the Malian government and the building of a maternity ward in the village. We also found a great water source in the village and drilled a well, thanks to the support of our generous donors, and the Malian government then took the initiative to build a well with solar pump and water tank..

Here are two videos introducing some of the people behind this project. The first will introduce you to Guem, one of our students living in Bamako but regularly coming to the school to study kora. Like for many children in the village, and as he says in his own words, “the music school has totally changed [his] life.” Get to know Guem’s experience, thoughts and concerns and discover some of his reality through this short video.


The second video here introduces Seidou Koné, one of our music teachers who rides 30 km round trip by bike twice a week to come teach at the school to share his talent with our students. Seidou received us at his home with his family and talks about his personal experience as a part of the project and how it has changed the way he is being seen in his village.

We’ve also brought new recording equipment to the music school: a brand new and powerful laptop, an amazing USB microphone , and great headphones and accessories in order to start recording workshops at the school. Our recently-recruited sound engineer, Bakoré, aka Mande Follo Sissoko, is going to come to the school twice a week to record our students and teachers and lead the recording workshops. We’ll share our first recordings with you very soon!

Click on the images below to access the photo gallery of this recent trip.

One love and “Vive le Mali”


Listen to a selection of great music from Mali:

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